There's a reason the "elitist" aura around GSL has stuck around for so long, one of which happens to be how often we end up in a scenario like this, where a Ro16 Group happens to be so insanely stackeD that by the end of the night you can't believe who the players getting knocked out are – Champions & people who would be favored against 99.9% of the playerbase.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead, Obviously.
The runner-up of last Season's Code S Final and the only Terran to make it into the IEM Katowice Playoffs is in prime position to claim the title of best Terran player in the world – TY absolutely dominated his opponents today in the Group of Death to secure 1st place. While he was forced to swallow quite a bitter pill in the winner's match, Rogue made it abundantly clear that when it comes to ZvZ he's pretty much in a league of his own (bar one, of course) and pretty handily secured the 2nd spot to comfortably make it into another Ro8 (here we go again, boys).
TY makes the toughest Group in the GSL look like child's play & does so with style
If I told you someone had managed to stomp the ever living crap out of GuMiho in a TvT you would likely call me insane or ask whether it had been Maru playing out of his mind. TY played so technically and brilliantly positioning-wise that by the end of the series the expression on the Towel Terran's face looked as if he was in utter disbelief and/or still waiting for the match to begin. The way TY completely dismantled him looked surgical, clean and flawless – there was no moment in time when it felt like things could have ever gone differently in this series, once again the 2-0 score doesn't do it justice, that's how dominant TY has been this season.
Going into the winner's match, Rogue looked to be a worthy opponent – considering their history and overall score against each other, the series should have been able to go either way on paper. Instead, TY made the most bizarre early push you'll ever see work on the first map, to the point where he killed the third Hatch of the Zerg basically "for free", after which the Terran had the map on lock using his fleet of Banshees (which he controlled marvelously, I must add) featuring the infamous speed upgrade & closed the game swiftly as a result. After priming Rogue for aggression, on the next map TY went for a CC first build and immediately followed it up with a third CC off just one Reaper. When the Zerg eventually found out what had happened, it was already far too late and what's worse is that Rogue responded quite predictably & characteristically – taking his own quick expansions – but TY's macro and multitasking tore him limb from limb, eventually & inevitably sealing the deal with the relatively straightforward 2-0 score here as well.
Rogue leans on his ZvZ prowess to destroy the IEM Katowice Champion
I don't know about you, but I was incredibly excited to watch how soO would do against Rogue after what we witnessed at IEM between him and Serral (in the context of what the Finn had done to Rogue and Dark in the past). Instead of the epic clash that seemed destined to go down, we got to see the former World Champion execute a classic ling flood to end the first game before it had really started (granted, some small mechanical errors occurred in that game for soO) and then follow-up with a vintage late game top tier performance, where Rogue did exactly what he wanted & finished the game off with an insane positional outplay via some stellar Nydus shenanigans. The Zerg basically made the mirror matchup look imbalanced with his perfect planning and execution.
What ended up happening in the winner's match – from Rogue's perspective – was the exact same two things, but from the other player instead. On the first map he never really got a chance to get going while on the second one the Terran chose to take advantage of Rogue's tendency to go for the lategame & beat him at his own game by being even more greedy and better at uninterrupted macro. I think the familiarity between the two players certainly played a part here and TY did come in at an insane level today, but Rogue himself seemed disappointed regardless – he had just stomped the IEM Champion, in his head the Zerg probably thought "I've already beaten TY a bunch of times & recently & out of form, so this should be easy today" and instead he got a rude awakening.
The body language heading into the final match of the day from Rogue was a bit off-putting, I must say – how many times have we seen this exact same scenario where Player A beats Player B in the first match of the day, only to lose in the decider match a few hours later & question where it all went wrong? As soon as the game started, though, there was no doubt to be found in Rogue's resolve – the maniac went three Hatch before pool, daring soO to do something about it. The ballsy play ended up paying off and with some slick speedling movements Rogue bought himself enough time & denied his opponent's own third for long enough in order to trigger and defend the eventual "all in" that came from the IEM Champion successfully by using correct angles and the defender's advantage to secure the win. The final game of the day was perhaps the closest, but even when the two players completely mirrored each other, it seemed like Rogue was just 5% better today, which was more than enough to close the show with a perfect 4-0 record against another top 3 Zerg player in the world and someone specifically renowned for his own ZvZ power.
GuMiho finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time & soO falls gracefully to a worthy contender
The reason this was called the Group of Death is because one of these four players would end up looking like a "loser" by the end of the day and that happened to be GuMiho first, with the worst score possible at 0-4. Aside from his failure to transition out of the Battlecruiser / Hellion harass in time and some crucial mistakes in dealing with soO's Vipers, I can't really say the Towel Terran could have played much better than he did today. To put things into perspective, I think he literally could have played at this exact level in another Group – I wonder which one, A? – and made it out in 1st place. Keep in mind all four of the players in this Group had won both their Ro32 matches, if real seeding had been used (instead of leaving it up to the players themselves) this scenario couldn't be possible. In that context, I can't really say I'm disappointed in GuMiho regardless of the terrible map score & I'm looking forward to seeing him come back in the Super Tournament and next Code S.
On one hand, the IEM Katowice Champion's clash with Rogue didn't go so well – soO looked stylistically outmatched by his opponent in both series, I'm afraid & I don't think even if they'd played a Bo5 or Bo7 or Bo9 things would have gone any differently. On the other hand, it's kind of cool how we now technically have a "rock, paper, scissors" scenario between him, Serral and Rogue & I'm looking forward to that hypothesis playing out during the rest of the year. In any case, the guy just won one of the biggest tournaments of the year and has secured his spot at BlizzCon, I think we can cut him a break for this one – although if he ever wants to beat Rogue, he's going to have to change some things (which I don't think he's really going to do at this stage of his career, but it's definitely needed since what he's going for just doesn't look like it'll do in this particular clash).
Here's a link to the VODs from today, the fact every series went 2-0 is a bit disappointing, but the level of play shown by TY in both his matches and Rogue in ZvZ was still phenomenal and worth watching.
- Match of the Night – It's very hard to decide which match was more impressive out of the three I have in mind, but lets say I'll edge this one to TY's schooling of Rogue in the
. Spectacular planning and execution from the Terran monster.
Finally, here are my takeaways for the second two players advancing to the Ro8:
- TY is currently 8-0 in this season of Code S, something Maru could have also done and didn't. Furthermore, in both the Ro32 and Ro16 he's looked unstoppable. I loved how in the winner's interview the guy said that he didn't want to face anyone from Group C because they were all really good players – guess what TY, you are the one people are dying to avoid right about now, not the other way around. What's even better is that because Maru shit the bed in the easiest group of the Ro16, TY might get to face him before the final and that could end up being the deciding factor that allows him to get over the hump and claim his first ever GSL title after two silver medals. As long as TY keeps himself composed and continues to play at this level, no one can stop him, certainly not a 3x GSL Champion that's making questionable decisions all over the place & getting outsmarted left and right.
- Rogue has done it again, but like I've already mentioned in the past his easiest chance to get over his "curse" has come and gone, the second hardest Group in the Ro16 is C and because he went out in 2nd place today the Zerg will have to face the winner of that group in the Ro8. Rogue has the capacity to overcome any of those four players – we know that because he's already done so in different scenarios many times in the past – but the problem he's facing here is living rent free in his own head. If you're curious about just how long this "curse" has been going on for, you can check out my dedicated post on the topic, regardless I'm sure Rogue himself is well aware of his own history in this situation. Do you want to know what's sad, though? If he could bust through this seemingly unbreakable wall for him, Rogue has ended up on the "easy" side of the bracket, meaning he could potentially make it all the way to the final – if only he could muster the strength to do what he's never done before in Code S and overcome the Ro8. When you put it that way, it paints things in much dimmer colors, doesn't it? Little fun fact to know, though – Rogue has never lost a final worth mentioning in his career i.e. every time he's made it to one it's been lights out stuff from the Zerg. Here's hoping he finds it within himself to step up and slay the metaphorical dragon in the Ro8 & the very real elite tier opponent he's going to have to face coming out of Group C.
Keep in mind these are just my observations. If you caught something I missed / think differently, feel free to express yourself as well in the comments below.
In any case, thanks as always for reading & catch you again on March 20th for the second Group of Ceath!
P.S. Here are the links to every other Quick Recap I've done so far for 2019's S1 of GSL Code S
Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D | Group E | Group F | Group G | Group H
Source: Original link
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